The pre-reformation altarpiece of Long Melford Church

Woods, Kim W. (2002). The pre-reformation altarpiece of Long Melford Church. Antiquaries Journal, 82 pp. 93–104.




The remarkable late sixteenth-century account of Long Melford church written by former churchwarden Roger Martyn includes a description of the carved wooden altarpiece placed at the high altar from 1481 (when, according to the inscription on the exterior of the church, the altarpiece was made) until 1547–8. The author suggests that this altarpiece is likely to have been Netherlandish rather than English and relates its purchase to the cloth-producing Long Melford and the Low Countries. The painted altarpiece shutters are known to have survived into Queen Mary's reign, but their subsequent fate is unknown, if indeed they survived at all. In Queen's College Chapel, Cambridge, are three shutters from a Brussels-carved altarpiece dating from c 1480 and owned by the College at least since 1717. It is proposed that these could be the Long Melford shutters, perhaps donated to the college after the English Civil War by Master Anthony Sparrow, who as archdeacon of Sudbury had oversight of Long Melford.

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